The Fad Generation and its “Slacktivist Ways”

 

I had to...

I had to…

Are we the “fad generation”? The age group more concerned about crazes, trends and what is in vogue rather than social issues? Probably. In fact, there is very little chance of denying such. We use hashtags in our speech “because it is ironic or cool”, we “planked” or “owled” because everyone was doing it and a minority of us, a very dark, depressed and desperate minority, cut themselves so that Justin Bieber would behave better. Trends dictate what we talk about, how we talk about them and how long we talk about them for. The latter is what I am most concerned with today, how we embark upon these memes or campaigns because they are in fashion yet, once the trend drops off Twitter’s radar and the craze is over, we seem to forget and move onto the next exciting fad. Additionally, I am concerned with how this plays a part in producing a generation of slacktivists, happy to lend a hashtag but not a proper voice to any real cause, and how this is time, energy and potential wasted.

Globalisation is not just in markets and immigration but also in the way we interact with people from all over the world online. The benefits of this is that we get to learn about all the amazing or cultural things occurring in other countries, the costs of this is that we also receive a barrage of all the rubbish things the rest of the world is doing, much of which we copy. #Necknominations originated with the Australians, “planking” came from England (so proud) and #Kony2012 from American activists. The difference between the three is that whilst the former two were done for jokes, the latter was social media’s attempt to provide some kind of purpose for itself through achieving justice against Joseph Kony. However, the differences end there. Just as “planking” was an internet sensation that soon became “lame”, so did Kony become a forgotten cause as we moved onto the next trend that grabbed our attention. The short-termism embedded in such trends means that even those campaigns that mean well often become forgotten, despite the issue not necessarily being resolved. The creators of Kony 2012, Invisible Children, promised that the campaign would not be a “passing fad”. However, how can we bring Joseph Kony, a war criminal who is guilty of rape, use of child soldiers and whose activities have displaced 2million people, to justice when we are too busy trending about whether Nicki Minaj’s behind is real?

It may be that, rather than us being human beings who are fickle and easily distracted, we may simply not care quite as much as we would like to think. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS described this as “slacktivism…people who support a cause by performing simple measures but are not truly engaged or devoted to making a change”. It is understandable to fall into this slacktivist approach because of the ease of uploading a photo of ourselves without makeup on, donating £3 and feeling like we have cured cancer. This may seem overly critical of what were mostly sincere acts to defeat cancer, but at the same time honesty needs to prevail and in all honesty I just complied with what my friends were doing at the time. Does this necessarily make me a bad person? No. But it does make me a slacktivist. The issue with this is that we treat serious campaigns in a similar fashion as to how we treat our #Necknominations and planks, disregarding the fact that the former, at their core, have immense effects on people’s lives. However, we still pass on the cause, hashtag it and say that “this is important” to feel that sense of self-accomplishment that enables us to sleep at night with that little bit of self-righteousness we all secretly love.

Yet, this tends to achieve very little. In regards to the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, international media suddenly shot its cameras towards Nigeria in a way that the country had not experienced since its civil war in the 1960s. In just 10 days the hashtag was used over 2.3million times. However, despite the worldwide attention, the girls still have not been found and the Nigerian government has reduced its search effort significantly. Is this a reflection on the weakness of the online campaign? Yes, the governments involved waited for the attention to subside, which they knew it would, so that the pressure for them to act would be lifted. Fox News agrees – Yes, Fox the source of all truth and fairness, does actually make some sense for once. When discussing the lack of response from Boko Haram and the Nigerian government to the campaign George Will, a Fox correspondent, said it was a “useless exercise in self-esteem and that … I do not know how adults stand there, facing a camera, and say, ‘Bring back our girls.’ Are these barbarians in the wilds of Nigeria supposed to check their Twitter accounts and say, ‘Uh oh, Michelle Obama is very cross with us, we better change our behaviour’?”

This is, however, not only slightly politically incorrect, “barbarians” et al, but also a severely harsh critique of internet activism. Although online activism has its shortcomings, the amount of attention it provides to such causes can have a monumental, albeit often short, effect. Stephen Sutton’s online presence was able to raise almost £4m for charity, and his death garnered deserved attention for bowel cancer. Furthermore, the cross-over from slacktivist to activist, when achieved, is a colossal force that has been known to cripple even the most repressive and entrenched governments. The success of the Arab Spring and its online presence is evidence of this as it was a long-fought triumph for social media’s power. Online activism in itself is not the issue, it is perhaps more the way we use it.

Thus, we may be the “fad generation” and have a tendency to write “#YOLO” one day because Drake said it and then on another day upload a video of us twerking because Miley Cyrus did it. I can accept this craze addiction. However, I cannot accept our short-term approach to online activism. Social media, hashtag activism or whatever name we may have for it has the potential to spread messages and causes across the globe, but only if we commit and become truly devoted, beyond a hashtag, to the cause.

(#BringBackOurGirls)

-OC

 

The Unnecessary Celebrities

Yes, they do this every year.

Yes, they do this every year.

Since their rise to fame in 2007 “The Kardashians”, yes it is a brand, have either been loved or loathed by society. Even Obama has been critical of Kimmy, Kourt, and Khlo for being poor influences on children. He has a point, episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians (KUWTK) range in topic from Kim crying because she dropped a $50,000 ring in the ocean, to Khloe getting arrested for drinking whilst driving, and it seems as if with all this going on they have little time to discuss the current Ukrainian situation. However, despite this seeming disapproval of The Kardashians they do have a loyal following. Kim has 21.5m followers on Twitter, that is more than the populations of Greece and Portugal combined. Furthermore, the family as a collective is worth more than $80m. The issue here is that, whilst they do provide senseless television and incentivise the female population to gym, tan and shop excessively, this is a self-perpetuating issue in society: The more society continues to watch, stalk and criticise The Kardashians the more successful and popular they become. What needs to happen in order to unhinge the human population from such detrimental forces is to simply look away, and not give them the celebrity and attention that they do not deserve.

This is similar to the craze for mass shootings and lone terrorism that occurs in American society. America’s gun laws are difficult for people in England to understand because there is no codified constitution here, but it is their right in ‘Murica to have a firearm. The issue with this is that guns and bullets are readily available in the US to the extent that mass shootings ranging from the horrors of Columbine to the stupidity of Elliot Rodgers occur. This links to The Kardashian obsession because, rather than giving no celebrity to these murderers, the news agencies saturate the headlines with profiles of the killers, medical records showing their mental instability and even print their manifestos. By doing this they fuel a nation’s obsession with such and dangerously inspire others to emulate these crimes. This is not only in America though. The Norwegian summer camp shootings, within which almost 70 people were killed, gained excessive amounts of coverage. Yet, this coverage was not as focussed on the victims, as it was on Anders Breivik who was the right-wing killer supposedly carrying out what God had ordered him to do. 170 media organisations covered the proceedings of his trial and his 1,500 page manifesto was published online. The fault here lies in the amount of celebrity a killer was given. Rather than being shamed he, knowing the world’s cameras were focussed on him, gave fist salutes and was given time to explain his ideology. By providing Breivik with so much attention he was able to inspire some to his radical and dangerous beliefs, and revel in his “glory”.

This is, however, worse in America. The recent Seattle Pacific University shootings’ killer was inspired by other events like Columbine. The fact that Columbine was turned into a media-saga that was watched worldwide is something that we should not be proud of. It provides the opportunity for glorifying people who have committed terrible crimes, and by glorifying such this can lead to inspiring others to achieve similar “glory”. There are television stations, for instance Crime Investigation, who stream murder shows throughout the day, and in fact currently have a special series called “Serial Killers Week”. These stations provide biographies of killers, explaining their motives, their lives and, usually, their mental instability. On the one hand these shows highlight the societal problems that may have driven the murderers, yet they also fuel this obsession and blurring of violence and fame. We live in a society that not only accepts said violence as a norm, but also gets dangerously excited by such. News agencies see these catastrophes with dollar signs and the public, whilst expressing sadness for the victims, cling to each piece of information that is received. This information can be as specific as how the killer may have entered the building and what type of guns they used.

The American coverage also delves deeply into the past of these murderers in order to highlight their poor background and instability, rather than truly questioning their gun laws. Whilst there may be a paragraph at the end of these pieces on the need for gun law reform, the headlines will not focus on the white elephant in the room but rather sensationalise the fact this murderer was bullied, depressed or mentally unstable. This may be a cynical analysis of the news coverage but there is some validity to it. Last week a married couple went on an ill-advised shooting spree in Las Vegas. Rather than questioning how readily available guns were to these people, the news has focussed more on the couple’s determination to overthrow the government and install white supremacy. Whilst it is interesting to think about how they thought that opening fire in a pizza restaurant would lead to the end of democracy in America, the death of police officers and the rigidity of America’s gun laws should be the highlight rather than giving unnecessary fame to murderers.

There is, however, light at the end of this dark and bloody tunnel. It comes from the land of maple syrup and, more importantly, intelligence. Canada is paving the way in reducing this glorification of murderers. The Sun News Network, not owned by Rupert Murdoch, refrained from giving the fame desired by a recent shooter by simply stating the details of the incident without naming him or beginning to devour his background. This is the way that these crises should be handled, with greater emphasis on compassion for the victims at the expense of excessive analysis of these criminals.

And so, akin to The Kardashians, it is important to not add fuel to what is already a burning flame by glorifying people who do not deserve it. However, this should not only happen because they do not deserve this fame, but also because their fame can incentivise some in society to idolize and desire to emulate such.

I write this as a recovering Kardashian addict.

-OC

Don’t Call it a Comeback

PxaYfyZ

These things still cannot be ignored.

I’m sorry I left you. The stress of exams in my clearly overly comfortable life took me away – don’t judge me – stress is relative, and I just need relatively little of it. I tried to think of an emphatic way to make a comeback – I could talk about the Chibok Girls and how this was an atrocious/disgusting act and how the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign has been heartwarming and finally a sign of things changing. Once again – I could – but I feel like that market may be a little saturated with either overly enthusiastic (and sadly naive) people who believe a hashtag can change the Nigerian government, and then the more cynical/politically driven people who see this is as a chance for a clean break between the North and the South. Either way, maybe I’ll write about it in a year and see who still remembers or cares. Instead, in the spirit of the World Cup, I wanted to talk about Brazil.

(Just an insert to say: What the f*** is up with Pitbull’s world cup song? He should not be allowed to spew his crappy lyrics and store-bought-beats for the tournament. He is ruining music – I hate that dude. Seriously.)

When I think of Brazil I feel a little racist because I stereotype the nation into carnivals, football and Alessandra Ambrosio (who is annoyingly attractive). I think of that episode of  The Simpsons where they go to the favelas to find Lisa’s orphan friend, I think of Pele in ridiculously tight shorts – it was the 70s? -, and now (unfortunately) I think about the World Cup happening in a nation that cannot afford it. The danger with talking about the socioeconomic inequality and World Cup in Brazil is that we can slip into this superior judgement that is highly critical of the nation more for reinforcing our own views about developing countries, rather than recognising their achievements made. It is a difficult one because we constantly receive reports about the socioeconomic inequality, political corruption and security issues that plague nations like Brazil. Now, whilst I am not saying that these should be ignored, I feel that there is an overemphasis on the negative at the expense of acknowledging some credible positives.

It is easy to say that the World Cup is costing Brazil around £8bn. £8bn that could go a long way in providing basic infrastructure for the 1.3 million people living in the favelas of Rio, or towards providing a basic education to the more than 50% of  children in Maranhao who have no access to pre-school. We hear of horror stories about how hard it can be to live in the favelas without running water, security and a genuinely fair opportunity to get a proper education and job. We hear about the gangs that run such favelas forcing the locals to pay a monthly “tax” for protection (aka protection from those who are meant to be doing the protecting). We hear of little Paulo/Luiz/Matteus who was killed on his way to school due to gang violence. “Then why is the government hosting an expensive world cup?” We ask. Yet, it is the acknowledgement that whilst these are all tragic and real, they are not all that there is to Brazil, nor do they only happen in developing nations. We need to look beyond the, although easy, narrow-mindedness that governs not only how the media portrays such “up and coming” countries but also how we personally think about them.

Brazil has achieved successes that should be recognised. Since winning the World Cup bid the government has embarked on a socioeconomic reform programme that is meant to reduce inequality, provide better opportunities and also cut down on crime. Now, I am not neglecting the recent protests that continue in Brazil against the inequality that runs deep in that nation, but I am instead also looking to the positives. The programme brought 10% of Brazilians out of poverty in 6 years, reduced the overall wealth of the richest 20% and has sought to tackle health, education and transport inequalities throughout the nation. Yet, we tend to ignore all of this and focus on the negatives, such as the poverty that continues and the protests. At first I thought that this was right – highlight the issues and condemn the Brazilian government for being irresponsible – but then I started to feel guilty. Guilty that I was not giving them credit for at least attempting to progress. Guilty for focussing on the negatives less out of genuine pity for those suffering, and more out of an expectation of failure. Guilty for condemning such in a developing country, yet allowing for it in the West.

People have been critical of Brazil’s World Cup for endangering workers’ lives, for being too slow in the building process and for going far over budget. Once again these are all legitimate criticisms – but they tend to be all we focus on rather than recognising the improvements Brazil has been able to make, and the development from investments that will come from the tournament. It links to how we tend to treat any Third World country, highlighting their flaws at their times of achievement, flaws that most countries have all been guilty of at some point in development. We should have a more open and less critical mind, acceptance that Brazil has its faults but also that it is making clear developments that should be acknowledged, and the World Cup is one of them.

Even if you do not agree with me, we can agree on the fact that it is a World Cup. It’s football. So, if anything, let’s leave it at that.

-OC

 

Mob Justice

The Guilty and The  Mob

The Guilty and The Mob

Black Mirror is/was (is it having a new season?) a brilliant show. For anyone who does not know, it is a dark satire that makes us realise just how awful society could potentially be if we continue the way that we are – so a really light-hearted comedy. The show’s topics range from the extent of the internet age, to how dangerous Simon Cowell’s hold on us is. One episode that gripped (and terrified) me was about just how far mob justice can go. The episode featured a young woman with no memory experiencing a torturous day of running from people attempting to kill her whilst the general public filmed – but did not help. It was later shown that she had committed the awful crime of child abuse, and that her punishment was to wake up everyday without any recollection of who she is, and go through this scenario of terror again. What is worse is that her life turned into an amusement park for people to go to and participate in her mental torture – standing by as she ran, not helping, but just filming.

What really struck me is just how many similarities there were between this extreme example and us today – especially when we consider popular trials and convictions and how we can, through the media, often takes justice and judgements into our own hands. Now, I am not planning on giving my opinion or justification of whether or not I think Oscar Pistorius is guilty – the whole saga is tragic either way we look at it. No, what I am discussing today is just how detrimental public opinions can be to court cases and the people involved in them.

Nigel Evans is a Tory MP who was recently cleared for sexual abuse charges. However, despite the fact that he cleared his name, he will forever be associated with the stigma that comes with his accusations. Is this fair? To be stigmatised forever based on something you have not done? No – yet because of the way public opinion and the media operate, this is sadly so. Media outlets compete with each other to provide the most information and the most exciting information – but this often means that they provide wrong and skewed facts. The issue here is that the media paints a picture of the suspected perpetrator before police evidence and, more importantly, court justice have been carried out. And so we base our opinions upon misinterpreted and wrong information that have grave consequences for the person in the spotlight.

The case of the Steubenville High School Rape incident is exactly what I hate. The media grasped certain information: that it was a high school party, that the 16 year old girl was beyond drunk and surrounded by boys, and that these boys were promising football players. Immediately, from these premises the majority of them concluded that the girl was a “slut” who encouraged the boys, and since the boys were promising athletes they should not have their futures ruined by some drunken mistake. I am not joking, even CNN – meant to be one of the more liberal American news stations – expressed sympathy for the boys who, let us not forget, did commit rape. My issue with this is that it misguides our mob justice, and leads us to the wrong and often dangerous conclusions. That girl was blamed for being a victim and, because of the way it was played out in the media, this was deemed acceptable. Now, that’s awful – and something we should all be ashamed of.

Now, with Oscar Pistorious it is more complex. Yes, he did kill his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, and that is beyond sad. Yet, the way the media has gone about it, and as a consequence we have too, is unfair for not only Oscar but more importantly Reeva. As soon as her death was reported the news was flooded with stories of Oscar’s trigger-happiness, rage and inadequacies. Immediately – without fully understanding what had happened we had this image of a killer placed in our minds. Even now, it is not the televising of his trial that angers me – but more the commentary by psychologists and other “people of authority” on the subject who argue that he is guilty because he cried at this time, or not because he hesitated then. The issue with this is that we form our own judgement, outside of the trial, outside of civil justice – and form this mob justice role which may not affect the judgement, but affects the societal reaction. Even if he is proven not guilty of pre-meditated murder Oscar will never be a free man. Society will make sure of that.

That is the point I am trying to make – just how dangerous it can be for us to formulate our own conclusions on big cases, with even bigger impacts upon those involved, based on assumptions made by the media even before the trial may have begun.

What can we do? – I hear no one ask – don’t worry I’ll still tell you. What we can do is make sure that we are a little bit more sceptical with the information chucked around concerning these trials, knowing just how much of an impact they can have on potentially innocent people.

Once again, not saying Oscar is innocent – who knows what the outcome will be.

-OC

Trapped in the Closet

My heroes.

My heroes.

I have always been a bit of a nerd. I may be a (relatively) normal girl but I have loved X-Men since the age of 8 (I memorised all the characters over a summer holiday once) and, as you might be able to tell, have a weird addiction to politics. Now, for a long time I hid all of my “little vices”, and even now my friends read this and are surprised to know that it is what I am interested in. I hid these hobbies because they were either not “cool” enough or were seen as too boring. However today, I will come out of the nerdy closet and declare that X-Men is ridiculously cool, and I am anticipating the new movie more than my nephew’s first birthday (obviously joking, Elijah).

My special version of being trapped in the closet makes me think about how many of us are trapped in the political closet. I mean this in the sense that very few of us ever want to seem different from the accepted and “cool” (if there ever could be) political ideologies. Since I arrived at university I have come to realise just how “cool” it is to appear centre of left, liberal, feminist, progressive and, one more for luck, egalitarian. I know I go to an exceptionally political university, but all of our ideological views seem to flow in one direction. Of course being a liberal and so on is great and I believe that I am, but I do question how genuine all of this is at times. Whether people really believe in gay marriage, spreading social justice in the likes of Zimbabwe and are really as “alternative” in their thinking as they appear to be.

I fear that the rather geeky vice of politics has become the latest basis of deciding what is cool and what is not. This may be a controversial view – but hear me out. What seems to have happened in society, or maybe just with younger people – or maybe just with my friends ?!- is that being seen as right wing in any way is unpopular and something that people actually judge you on. This means that we stay “trapped in the political closet” even if we have just an inkling of lenience towards the Conservatives or UKIP. We look at these organisations as anachronistic and “lame” because they believe in traditional marriage and leaving the EU – and these are legitimate points to be deterred by. I will not, however, accept a blanket detestation for all right-wing organisations because I honestly do not think that I, or a lot of other people, could safely say we do not agree with absolutely any of the more right inclined policies. I am currently picturing a lot of people screaming at me through their screens for even making such a suggestion (I grossly overestimate how much people care about this blog) – but think about something like unemployment. I believe in providing welfare support for the unemployed, but I also believe in providing incentives – sometimes of a rather high-pressure – in order to make sure that only those who really cannot work receive full benefits. Does this make me Tony Blair reincarnate? Does this make me right wing? I’m not sure, maybe – but there is nothing wrong with being labelled that because in this instance that is what I genuinely believe.

Anything that has the notion of social justice and progressiveness is snapped up by us, with the hope of posting it on Facebook and making people realise “just how down with the cause we are”. But I have come to question whether we do this more for the cause or for the reception. When I look at the EDL as an example of a hated right-wing organisation I see some bigotry, racism and even examples of sexism. However, I can now admit that I once found myself agreeing with an argument made by Tommy Robinson (former leader of EDL): that governments are afraid to appear racist and against multiculturalism and this causes them to not intervene in otherwise socially unacceptable incidents – such as the practice of Female Genital Mutilation – for far too long. (I know that there may be other factors for the slow reaction of Parliament to FGM, but I do think the fear of looking like they were targeting certain sects of society was a hindrance.) Now, my reaction to this was fear – fear of being called a bigot – but does it make me right-wing and “evil” just because I can relate to Tommy Robinson in some way? No – and if you do not agree with me, I am sorry but you may be the actual bigot.

Now, I am not saying that we should all rush off and join the EDL, although that would make an excellent Channel 4 documentary, because that is not what this was about. This was about “coming out” of the political closet and being honest with ourselves and admitting that we may be politically “bicurious”. What I mean is that it is completely acceptable to go against the popular views, and admit that you do agree with some things the Conservatives and UKIP say. I am not saying that we are all naturally right-wing, nor am I saying that right-wing is the correct way; but politics is made up of ideologies, opinions and views, and so we should not confine ourselves to what is “cool” if that is not our honest opinion.

I genuinely struggled with writing this because I did not want to offend anyone or come across as ignorant. Instead I think that this should be viewed as an extension of my first post about honesty – and the importance of being truthful in politics. Without this we fuel dishonest politics, and politics based solely around power rather than our true views – which is dangerous. Let’s not set the framework for that, but instead think independently and truthfully.

Let the onslaught from the political left begin.

Have a good day.

-OC

 

 

Value

"George Bush does not like black people"

“George Bush does not like black people”

The news is a terrible thing. I say this because the only time we are ever really gripped by it, and hooked up to the continuous IV drips of information that are the CNN and BBC, is when something horrible has happened. We have all become bad-news-junkies, and of recent have been “riding the dragon” of depressing media – which seems to be coming from all directions. My particular addiction has been the Malaysian Airline Crisis and the disappearance of flight MH370. The flight, carrying 239 people, was missing for over two weeks until it was determined yesterday that it had crashed in the Southern Indian Ocean. The story is devastating and I can barely begin to imagine what the passengers, and now their families, have had to go through.

Connected to this tragedy is what I wanted to discuss today. The collective international effort to find the plane has been impressive and somewhat heart-warming for anyone who needed a little bit of faith restored in humanity (which is everyone). Twenty-Six countries have been involved in the search, with the US (of course) providing the most help. This got me thinking about how valued the lives aboard that plane were, especially (and no I’m not going off on a rant) in comparison to the Third World.

Living in both Lagos and London I have been able to see just how drastic a variance there is regarding the value placed on human beings’ lives. In England the most recent death in the news has been that of fifteen year old Shereka Marsh who was shot in the neck by a fifteen year old boy. This unfortunate event made national news as soon as it was reported, and the boy was arrested within the following days. British news has weekly headlines of missing people, car crashes and deaths. I know a few cynical people (You’re all terrible people) who would say that the reason these events are brought to light are because it was probably just a slow news day, but that is not true. Instead, it is because there is a value of life in the West that means that the police, politicians and the public cannot ignore their fellow citizens’ misfortunes and crises.

In Nigeria there is an acceptance of death that continues to astonish and disappoint me. Planes crash annually and kill everyone on board, yet within the next six months that same airline with the same out-dated model of airplanes will be flying again, and I just accept it. Around 3.7% of our population lives with AIDs, yet our government passes Anti-Gay legislation that prevents AIDs victims from seeking treatment from fear of being arrested, and we just accept it. The Boko Haram has killed over 13,000 people since Jonathan became president – yes people, not just the numbers we see on the nightly news – real children, mothers and fathers – and the government fails to end this, and society just accepts it.

Now, perhaps for some truly exceptional, utilitarian, all-loving kiddies a sense of collectivism and care for the lives of others comes naturally. I will be honest and say that for me it does not. For me it comes from believing in a social contract that means that if I were ever in an unfortunate circumstance (the worst being death) then society would help and care for me. And so when I see someone else in that situation I have to react in the way that I would want others to react for me. The social contract in Nigeria fails to do this because there is so little value placed on the majority of people’s lives. Unless you have a connection to power, and thus some sway, you are effectively disposable in the government’s eyes. All those who die daily in Nigeria from preventable causes – and yes the Boko Haram is preventable – have died because their lives were not “worth it”, and that is just unfair. I know I have a tendency to berate politicians, but there is a reason for that. If the government did carry out some truly effective policies that were able to improve security in Nigeria and instill this sense of value of life, then society would follow suit and not just accept.

I cannot ignore the fact that there is an alternative view to all of this – yes, here comes the racial card – that in the West there is also this lack of value of life if you are from an ethnic minority. Kanye West (who I seem to quote weekly?!) is famous for saying that “George Bush does not like black people” in response to the former president’s poor reaction to the New Orleans floods. In this loaded statement was the feeling that if you are not their target demographic then politicians seem to forget about you, which was part of the justification of the London Riots in 2011. I can sympathise with this notion, because it is true to a certain extent – Age UK (an old people’s pressure group) is given far too much influence in British politics purely because old people vote more at elections in comparison to the youth. We are essentially prioritised or ignored based on our voting records.

Perhaps then I can offer just a bit of advice today – not an answer: To make politicians more accountable, and through this create a credible social contract that values our lives regardless of our colour, influence or wealth. In the West this means voting and participating in politics so that we receive genuine representation, and in the Third World this means demanding social justice and improvements in democracy. Through these actions our voices will be heard and our lives will be valued.

It will be difficult, but our lives are worth it.

That was a bit depressing/Oscar worthy.

-OC

 

Façade

reginaWhen I think of the word façade I think of superficial. I think of that girl we all knew at school who acted like she was Regina George or Blair Waldorf by being a bully, bossy and (excuse my French) a b*tch. But really you knew she had daddy issues, or a tendency to run off to the toilets straight after every meal or took more drugs than were socially acceptable in your friendship group (not that drugs are ever acceptable…). Yet, she had the ability to cover this all up, mask the pain and project this image fueled by falsities and lies. Well, that’s how I see politics.

There is a reason shows such as The Thick of It and House of Cards that expose the political games and “omnishambles” of public life are so popular (and no the reason is not Netflix). It is because we all know deep down, just as we knew with the Reginas and Blairs, that politics is fake.

One of the reasons for this is the invention of the career politician – someone who wants their career more than they want to represent the people that voted them in, someone that is perpetually climbing the ladder of political patronage. These people will (mostly) do whatever is needed to continue to advance their careers. But is this really what we want in politics – politicians who mask their true feelings in order to “toe the party line”? I don’t – I want honesty in politics. I want politics to be full of Dennis Skinners – people who have their principles from the beginning and stick to them rather than being as malleable as clay. People who would have told Tony Blair “No.” to Iraq, like Robin Cook did, when he was their party leader instead of waiting till he had fallen from grace (take note Miliband and Balls). I know if we had politicians who were all honest in their ideology then parliamentary operations may be less effective, but at least then the legislation that would pass would have been thoroughly debated and would be a fairly honest representation of what society wants.

This type of façade in politics is even worse in the developing world. Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s president (and yes that is his real name), recently pledged to spend millions of dollars in order to “improve media coverage of Nigeria”, particularly concerning the Boko Haram crisis. What our president is basically saying is that instead of spending the money tackling and defeating the security issue in Nigeria he would rather spend money to create a better representation of the situation. Yes – he really said that. That campaign is not honest. It is just a mask, a fake and weak cover-up that does little to tackle the instability that currently rules Northern Nigeria. Jonathan is a weak leader with little plan for Nigeria’s numerous problems – yet he prioritises looking rather being effective in order to stay in power. That’s awful.

I feel bad blaming the politicians solely for this grande façade; it is also due to the media that this dishonesty comes about. Back in Churchill’s day the heads of the news outlets would have known of his occasional drug use and frequent alcohol abuse – but the most important thing was that he successfully led the country (which he did for the most part) so they did no mass exposé. That may be an extreme example with external factors also playing a part (such as the Old Boys’ Club) and I know that this is a controversial opinion, but hey it’s my blog. I simply do not want to hear about the amount of things that politicians get up to in their private life as long as they deliver in their public one. From the secretly gay ones, to the weird nymphomaniacs in football shirts – I know it is exciting gossip but as long as it is not detrimental to their ability to lead the country I seriously could not care less if David Cameron had a foot fetish (he does not…I think?).

I understand that politicians are in the public life but what does the media want – does it want perfect robots that never do anything wrong? That would undermine the very point of representation – politicians would become this unobtainable uber-elite non-humans, and how then could they relate to the everyday person? We now have the Olivia Popes (watch Scandal) who go around making sure the public never knows just how human politicians are so that when something does happen, such as a lovely sleaze scandal, then there is mass outrage because the “robots” are not so perfect after all.

To be honest I do not know where I am going with this rant – but I am frustrated, and I hope that you are too. This system we live in has institutionalised superficial behaviour, and if anything rewards it. I’m not sure what you can take away from this except to be warned. Warned of the fact that politicians mask the real issues in government, warned of the fact that they are increasingly becoming less human and more robotic, and warned of the dangers that lie in the consequences of all of this.

Anyways, have a good day.

-OC